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Defeating Lee

A History of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac

Lawrence A. Kreiser, Jr.

Publication Year: 2011

Fair Oaks, the Seven Days, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, Petersburg -- the list of significant battles fought by the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac, is a long and distinguished one. This absorbing history of the Second Corps follows the unit's creation and rise to prominence, the battles that earned it a reputation for hard fighting, and the legacy its veterans sought to maintain in the years after the Civil War. More than an account of battles, Defeating Lee gets to the heart of what motivated these men, why they fought so hard, and how they sustained a spirited defense of cause and country long after the guns had fallen silent.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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pp. 1-7


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xiii

The study of the Union war effort is increasingly filled by unit histories. Books on armies, brigades, and regiments abound, many of them well written and researched.1 Missing, however, are histories of army corps. ...

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pp. xv-xvii

The writing of this book has brought many pleasures, but none as great as the opportunity to thank the many individuals who have helped to bring the project to completion. My colleagues at Stillman College, especially the members of the “Domed Stadium Committee” ...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xix-xx

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1 Beginnings The Organization of the Second Corps

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pp. 1-27

The Second Corps officially came into existence on March 8, 1862, when President Lincoln ordered the creation of the first four Union army corps. Yet the history of the Second Corps dates back to the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. ...

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2 Apprenticeship The Peninsula and Maryland Campaigns

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pp. 28-64

Soon after assembling the army into corps, McClellan moved his forces to Fort Monroe. A Union-controlled stronghold on the Virginia Peninsula, Fort Monroe served as the starting point for a Federal offensive to capture Richmond. McClellan planned to push his 89,000 men inland (westward) the roughly fifty miles to the Confederate capital. ...

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3 Defeat The Fredericksburg Campaign

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pp. 65-92

Few soldiers in the Second Corps were without opinion when President the Potomac in early November 1862. To lead the Federal forces, now Ambrose Burnside, the commander of the Ninth Corps. Lincoln made the command change because he believed McClellan too slow and cautious to ever bring Lee to bay.1 ...

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4 Pinnacle The Winter Encampment of 1863 through the Gettysburg Campaign

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pp. 93-125

Morale soared in the Second Corps in late January 1863, when Major General Joseph Hooker replaced Burnside as commander of the Army of the Potomac.1 Couch’s men expressed mixed opinions about yet another command change, their third in nearly as many months, but they almost universally praised Hooker’s administrative reforms. ...

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5 Rebuilding Bristoe Station to Stevensburg

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pp. 126-153

Complaints filled the air as soldiers of the Second Corps marched toward the Rapidan River and temporary encampment in late July 1863, following the conclusion of the Gettysburg Campaign. The past month had brought near-continuous fighting and marching, and fatigue ranked near the top in list of gripes. ...

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6 Carnage The Overland Campaign

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pp. 154-191

The prospect for Union victory looked bright to soldiers of the Second Corps by the spring of 1864. These veterans of many of the war’s great battles understood that General Grant intended to make the destruc-tion of the Army of Northern Virginia his primary objective through a campaign of maneuver and assault. ...

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7 Victory The Petersburg and Appomattox Campaigns

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pp. 192-226

The march toward the James River on the night of June 12 quickly turned more grueling than soldiers of the Second Corps had anticipated. This was no march of a few miles to clear the Confederate right flank, as the Union army had attempted at Cold Harbor. ...

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8 Memories The Postwar Era

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pp. 227-256

Soldiers of the Second Corps demonstrated a strong desire to record their stories even before the guns had fallen silent around Appomattox Court House. As early as the winter of 1864, soldiers of the 57th New York eagerly snapped up a history of their regiment published in a local newspaper. ...


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pp. 257-288


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pp. 289-344


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pp. 345-374


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pp. 375-387

E-ISBN-13: 9780253001702
E-ISBN-10: 0253001706
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253356161

Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 19 b&w illus., 1 map
Publication Year: 2011